Downs Working On Police Presence

Published 08/22 2014 05:02PM

Updated 08/22 2014 05:51PM

DOWNS - The McLean County Village of Downs hasn't had a full-time police presence since its police chief retired in 2012. Since then, they've been relying on county sheriff's deputies to patrol the town. But the village board decided to end that agreement to save money.

"It's my understanding that it's completely a budget issue,” said Tri-Valley superintendent Dr. David Mouser. “I think that's something that probably municipalities as well as schools are facing is budget constraints."

But as the village deals with those limitations, the school district of 1,100 students could soon be losing its police presence.

"They would help direct traffic at the end of the day and make sure that our kids leave the school safely, get on U.S. 150 and that sort,” said Mouser.

The local police chief retired in 2012 and for the last year or so, the village has been relying on the McLean County Sheriff's Office for routine patrols. That includes coming to and leaving the schools.

"That's a busy state highway and when you have cars leaving in that short amount of time, you'll have traffic issues and you want to make sure that the students and the public are safe,” said Lt. Jon Sandage of the McLean County Sheriff’s Department.

With fewer dollars available this year, the village asked the county to reduce its coverage from 26 hours a week at nearly $50 an hour, to 20, but the county couldn't do that.

"We were notified by a village trustee that they were going to look into forming their own police department again and that our services would no longer be needed,” said Sandage.

So in the event of an emergency, residents will have to rely on the sheriff's department and LeRoy being just a call away, but Mouser says he'd prefer to have it close by.

"The fact that you know you've got safety there should you need it, and the fact that we can reach out at any given time and have that presence is always something that's comforting to know,” said Mouser.

For the next 30 days, they'll keep working with McLean County, while the board searches for a solution.

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